McCormick Asks For Accountability,
Teacher Evaluations, Income and Testing,
The Reading Wars, Elections Matter,
October is ADHD Awareness Month
PUBLIC EDUCATION: FOR KIDS, NOT FOR PROFIT
Indiana has a tax credit of 50% for donors to scholarship granting organizations which means that half the donations to those organizations come from the state. It’s worse, however, in ten other states, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. I must admit that I’m surprised Indiana hasn’t gone this far…
For example, imagine that a wealthy South Carolinian who is in the top tax bracket gives $1 million to a “scholarship organization” that funds the state’s private school voucher program. South Carolina will reimburse that donor $1 million – this means the donor hasn’t spent anything. Nonetheless, the federal government considers that $1 million a charitable donation and therefore not taxable. At the top federal income tax bracket of 37 percent, the donor saves $370,000 on their federal taxes. But because the donor was reimbursed by the state for every dollar of their $1 million donation, that extra $370,000 savings is pure profit. It’s outrageous.
STATE SUPER CALLS FOR CHARTER AND PRIVATE SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY
Jennifer McCormick, a Republican, ran for Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016. Her opponent was the incumbent Glenda Ritz. During her tenure, Superintendent Ritz tried to use her position to support public schools and protect public education from the privatizers in the legislature and the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE). Dr. McCormick professed to have a similar educational platform as Ritz, but she claimed that, as a Republican, the Governor, Legislators, and members of the SBOE, would listen to her.
…Superintendent McCormick believes that “any school that takes public money should be an inclusive place for LGBT students and staff.” It seems pretty clear that she does not see eye-to-eye with her Republican colleagues on what the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s role should be or with how charters and private schools should be held accountable for their receipt and use of public money. This news came as Dr. McCormick discussed the Department of Education’s legislative priorities for the upcoming session. Among the priorities she announced for the Department were providing an inclusive environment for K-12 students, holding charter school authorizers accountable both fiscally and academically, and reducing testing time.
There are too many out-of-school factors for teachers to be held 100% responsible for the achievement of their students.
– You can’t hold a teacher accountable for things she can’t control. Senator, in your statement, you imply that student growth should be a part of a teacher’s evaluation. But a teacher’s effectiveness is obviously not the only factor that contributes to student outcomes. As the American Statistical Association states: “…teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions.”(2)
Simply put: a teacher’s effectiveness is a part, but only a part, of a child’s learning outcomes. We should not attribute all of the changes in a student’s test scores from year-to-year solely to a teacher they had from September to May; too many other factors influence that student’s “growth.”
HIGH INCOME – HIGH SCORES
Speaking of test scores…ISTEP scores are finally here…delayed again…and still worthless for anything other than giving schools full of high-income students another “A” banner for their hallway. Meanwhile, schools full of low-income students fight to get equitable funding for wrap-around services. Where are the “F” banners for the legislators who fail to take responsibility for inequitable funding?
It’s a lousy week to be an education reporter in Indiana. ISTEP-Plus test results were released Wednesday by the State Board of Education, so editors are assigning – and readers are expecting – the usual stories. Which schools did best? Which did worst? Which improved, and which didn’t?
Reporters who spend their work lives visiting schools and talking to educators and experts know this is the epitome of a non-news story. They know that years of experience and research tell us that affluent schools will have higher test scores than schools serving mostly poor students.
THE READING WARS
“The ‘reading wars’ never go away — at least not for long.” — Valerie Strauss
There are more than two sides to The Reading Wars. Actual practitioners, reading teachers, understand that teaching reading is a nuanced process. You can’t ignore context and you can’t ignore sound-symbol correspondence.
A good teacher finds out what her students need and what helps her students learn. She then tries different approaches and chooses that combination which most benefits the student.
Class size matters. The larger the class the more difficult it is to focus on the needs of each student. Large classes force teachers into focusing on the approaches which meet the needs of the majority of students…which means some students miss out.
Any teacher who has studied reading, understands that both phonics and whole language are important. A great reading teacher is capable of interweaving the two, depending on the instructional reading needs of every student in their class.
Some students need more phonics. Other students don’t need as much phonics. Teachers are better able to address the individual needs of their students, while bringing the class together, if they have manageable class sizes. Questions involving how to teach reading are important, but class size is critical no matter how reading is taught.
Lowering class sizes enables teachers to create an individualized reading prescription, like an IEP. It enables teachers to provide more one-on-one instruction which we also know helps students. It also provides them with more time to work with parents.
VOTE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION
While it may not top the list of issues motivating voters to go to the polls, education is a key factor in some big races. (Depending on age, location, political affiliation or time of survey, other matters may come out on top, including the economy, immigration or health care.) And while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos isn’t on the ballot anywhere, her priorities are.
Americans have long cited education as a key concern when asked by pollsters to list issues important to them, but it has never been seen as one that could affect their vote. But for a combination of reasons, including the inevitable swing of the political pendulum, things seem different this year.
Hundreds of teachers and retired educators — an unprecedented number — are running for political office on the local, state and federal levels. There are hundreds of teachers — most of them Democrats — running for state legislative seats alone.
DEVOS DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE DOESN’T KNOW
The Dunning-Kruger effect “…occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyze their performance, leading to a significant overestimation of themselves. In simple words, it’s ‘people who are too ignorant to know how ignorant they are’.”
Betsy DeVos is too ignorant about education to understand that she knows nothing about education.
“Parents, by their very nature, should decide what, when, where and how their children learn,” DeVos said.
But even amidst the barren, dystopian landscape of Ms. DeVos’ vision of American education, the quote above somehow caught my eye. You have to give it to her: Betsy has a real knack for distilling complicated, complex problems down into a single ignorant, nonsensical nugget of edu-drivel.
And she’s just clever enough to remember who her audience is here–and it’s not teachers, or teacher educators, or the 75+% of parents who are happy with their kids’ schools. No, her audience is the conservative base who believe that nothing public is better than anything private, who refer to public schools as “government schools,” and believe that paying even a single dollar in taxes is a form of robbery….
OCTOBER IS ADHD AWARENESS MONTH
October is ADHD Awareness Month. It’s sad that we even have to post the following…
1. ADHD is Real
Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States long ago concluded that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a real, brain-based medical disorder. These organizations also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment. [1,2,3,4,5,6,7]